A New Year is relentless accompanied by swathes of commentary on work-life balance, ‘burn-out’ and the seek for ever lasting joy and happiness. And there’s so much goodness behind the sentiment.
But, in my experience, those ‘new year’ mantras cause more harm than good when they’re exhaustingly projected on to somebody else.
I work a fair amount – an amount I am happy and contented to work in order to make the most of the opportunities that come my way. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have days when I’m tired, or emotional, or irritated by something or someone. And for the last few months, I have felt completely unable to tell anyone about those feelings. For every time I do, I’m hit with a barrage of rubbish about how ‘it’s not worth it’ and not to ‘let it get to me’ and never to stay late or come in early and to introduce a better ‘work-life balance’
Jack Welch once said that “there is no such thing as work-life balance. There are work-life choices, and you have to make them, and they have consequences”
I’ve learned that one of those consequences, is that you have to surround yourself with people who understand (or at least are capable of internalising their judgement). And even though you may have friends who you adore, who bring fun and lightness and joy into your life, they can still be unspeakably bad for you.
My advice, for what it’s worth (which is not much) for those of you forging a career in this insane city, is to find the friends who cancel as much as their cancelled on, who forgive unanswered messages and who never return calls, who only pick up emails sent to their office accounts. The ones who, when you finally see them, tell their inspirational stories with a sprinkle of ‘you will not believe what the bitch said today’ and who commiserate over Tesco sandwiches eaten on the tube and crackling trans-atlantic conference call lines.
A little bit of like-mindedness goes a long way.